Claire Croxton Romance Author

In case you haven’t heard, Santorini Sunset is now available on Amazon!  Woohoo and Yeehaw! The Kindle version will be available in May.

If you’ve seen the book trailer: Santorini Sunset by Trailer Trash Productions, you’ll remember the line: “Somewhere between my wedding cake baking and peacock herding . . .”

Several people have asked me about that, so here’s a scene from Santorini Sunset that explains how the peacocks became part of the wedding in paradise.  Hope you enjoy:

“Caroline!” Mother screamed. “Get down here this instant!” Mother doesn’t scream. She manipulates, insults and demands, but screaming wasn’t in her arsenal.

Something was amiss.

“Dammit.” The no swearing vow would have to wait until I was stateside again.

Raul laughed.

I kissed him one more time to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, threw on a robe and went downstairs. The racket was ear-piercing. Loud screeches.

People scurrying about…

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Claire Croxton’s latest release: Santorini Sunset

Claire Croxton Romance Author

The release date is May 18, 2012, but my fans couldn’t wait that long. Amazon put Santorini Sunset on sale yesterday!  Okay, it has nothing to do with clamoring fans and everything to do with Amazon doing whatever they darn well please, but let me have my little fantasies, okay?

Blurb:  Caroline Clayton’s sister, Gabriella, is getting married . . . to Caroline’s former fiancé, Albert. Instead of drowning her sorrows in a vat of ice cream, Caroline recruits her sultry co-worker, Raul Sobrevilla, to be her wedding date. Showing up with Mr. Hotter Better Sexier has the desired effect. Both Gabriella and Albert are jealous and Caroline’s mother is speechless for the first time in history. Even Caroline’s dad is happy with that result.

Raul Sobrevilla hired on at Synergy so he could work with the best, Caroline. When she asks him to attend the wedding in Santorini…

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Picture the Scene

This week’s question is by Pamela Foster:

Explain your process when you sit down to write a scene.  Do you enter into the mind of your character?  Picture the setting?  Fall into a trance? How do you turn pictures, scenes, in your head into words on paper that call forth images in the mind of your reader?

PAM:  I start with a lesson plan.  (That teaching credential pays off after all)  What do I want to happen in the scene?  How am I moving the action forward or developing the character?  Then, when I have a general idea of what I want the scene to accomplish, I move on to specifics.

First, I decide on the place the scene will take place.  Once I’ve figured that out, I move on to asking what would be the smells in this scene.  I’m a great believer in scent as a trigger for emotion.  If I can make a reader smell what the character smells, I’ve got them.  I want to know what time of year it is.  What time of day?  Where is the light coming from?  Light is another trigger for me, a way to place the reader right there in the mind of the character.

Then I move to the mind of the POV character.  Is she happy?  Sad?  Worried?  Confused? What, exactly, is she feeling?  I introduce the secondary character or characters.  A scene with two characters, one male and one female, is the easiest scene to write. The more people you put in a scene, the more movement and the more personalities there are bouncing off each other, the more difficult the scene is to write.  I would advise a new writer to perfect the two person scene, before moving on to the group shot.

All that takes very little time, it becomes natural after a while and I think this is one reason a writer needs to write every day.  Practice really does make you a better writer.  Once I’ve arranged all that in my mind, I get out of the way and let the characters lead the way.  Sometimes the scene leads in a completely different direction than I planned and almost always there are surprises before the scene is completed.  That’s one of the great joys of writing.

RUTH:  Wow, for some crazy reason I had a tough time answering this question.  Thanks a lot, Pam.

I’d like to say that I don’t consciously think about a scene, but that isn’t exactly the truth.  A hint of an idea might be hiding in the shadows of my mind that will eventually take over and consume me body and soul, but I do have to take the human footsteps and actually sit with my fingers on the keyboard before the magic happens.  Does that make sense?

Scenes play like mini-movies in my head. When I put them on paper I “watch” the movie and just type what I see. I suppose I’m in a trance-like state while this is happening, however I’m still conscious of the cats running like striped-ass apes through the house so I’m not totally in a daze.   If I have trouble finding the right words to bring the images forward to the reader, I act the scene out, often talking the dialogue as I type.

I do become the character.  Doesn’t every great writer?

LINDA:  I daydream! Recently a speaker made this statement, “A writer is one who is working even when staring out the window.” How true! I let several scenarios play like a movie in my mind. Then I write it down and continue on with the story. Then after the first draft, I revisit each scene and let it play again. By now, I’m more connected with my characters and I know how the story actually ended (they don’t always end as we writers intended them to, do they?) I add twists, flavor it with more senses, punch up the dialogue and internalization, as well as sprinkle in just enough attitude and emotion.

JANWhen I have a scene in my head and I sit down to write it, I close my eyes and put myself in that scene as my character. What does she see, smell, hear? Move in. Closer. Closer. What is she thinking?

But in writing a scene, I also ask myself, what is the purpose of the scene? Does it move the story forward or is it fluff? I’ll admit, there have been a few scenes that I’ve liked so much, yet the scene had no purpose. But, because I couldn’t let the scene go, I created a reason for it to remain . . . a way to move the story forward.

If the reason for a scene is strong, but the scene itself is weak, just won’t go down on paper, I often “interview” my characters. There’s something about changing methods from trying to get a story down on paper, to literally asking your character questions. It’s amazing how much your character will “tell” you, if you ask the right questions.

CLAIRE:  My process is this: I wake up in the morning with an empty head (some would claim it stays that way.) I get something caffeinated—usually Diet Coke, but sometimes coffee—and sit down in front of the computer. I have no idea what I’m going to write or a goal for the day. I simply review what I’ve written the day before and let the words flow forth. If I get to a scene that is causing my writing to slow, I skip over it and continue to write. Then, I’ll go back to difficult scene and ponder it.

The pondering can last for days. I usually start another project, making a quilt or gardening or cooking, The entire time the scene is floating around in my head. As the day progresses, I’ll get the scene worked out in my mind and I’ll either finish writing that scene in the afternoon or I’ll wait until the morning. If I wait overnight, I have to take some notes so I’ll remember what I’d figured out.

It’s not a very scientific process, but it works for me. It’s amazing where and when the ideas come to me. Last summer while I was picking green beans, I had a conversation in my head between two characters that resulted in one of my favorite scenes in Redneck Ex. The other day, I was trying to figure out why my characters in Loch Lonnie were locked away in a storm cellar during a tornado. While weeding my roses, the answer came to me and boy was it a doozie!  So, out there that I thought I’d experienced sunstroke, but it’s a really good scene.

The most frustrating thing is when I quit writing for the day, but my characters continue their dialogue while I’m trying to do other things. I forgot to put sugar in an apple cobbler once because my characters were having one heck of a donnybrook. The cobbler was awful, but the resulting scene was pretty darn colorful.

Jan Morrill Writes

My Broken Dolls characters spoke to me loud and clear this week, and here’s what they collectively said:

“Oh, no, you don’t. Just where do you think you’re going? You get yourself right back here and listen to us!”

You see, I had decided to take a little break from the sequel I’m working on, Broken Dreams, which includes the same characters, Sachi, Nobu, Terrence and Jubie. I thought I’d give the romance genre a try, and had been working on a short story or novella, whichever it turned out to be.

Unfortunately, writer’s block set in in terrible fashion. I’d write a sentence, erase it. Write a sentence, re-write it. Though my mind was filled with how I wanted to story to go, I let various distractions (non-writerly responsibilities, the Internet, other writerly responsibilities, the Internet, my dogs, the Internet, the garden, the Internet) keep me from putting…

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Claire visits with Amie Louellen

Claire Croxton Romance Author

I’m so excited to welcome Amie Louellen, a fellow Wild Rose Press author, to my blog. Look at her! Isn’t she gorgeous? All springy and smiling. Her latest release, Love Potion Me, Baby sounds like a hoot and a half. Anyone who can quote Albert Einstein in a romance novel has my admiration:

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. (Albert Einstein)

That Einstein was a genius!

Read what Amie Louellen has to say about naming characters and then check out the blurb from Love Potion Me, Baby. Then . . . here’s the biggie, go to TWRP or Amazon and BUY THE BOOK!

Something About a Name

An excerpt from Love Potion Me, Baby by Amie Louellen

“Mr. Van Sant, I don’t think—”

“Brice.” He buried his lips in the hollow behind her ear…

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Jan Morrill Writes

creative combination
or mixing of content

from different sources.

This week, the theme of my mashup is what to do once your book is published. Reading these links must have brought me some positive-thinking energy, because yesterday (yes, Easter Sunday) I received an email from the director/editor of a press that has been reviewing Broken Dolls, and this morning, I have a meeting to discuss his interest. I’m trying to control my excitement, though I believe in enjoying the journey.I’ll post more about this potential good news once I have confirmed it really is good news.

For now, I hope you enjoy this week’s mashup. Maybe reading it will bring you some positive energy, too!

# # #

BookBaby posted a great article on “How to Throw a Book Launch Party That Isn’t a Waste of Time.” I have to say…

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Favorite Characters

Claire Croxton asks this week’s question: 

We’ve all written numerous short stories and/or novels with tons of interesting and fascinating characters. Who is your favorite character from all your writing? Tell us about him/her and the qualities that you admire about them.

JAN: To me, asking which is my favorite character is like asking which is my favorite child. But if held to the fire, I suppose I would have to choose Sachi, my eight-year old character from Broken Dolls. Though she is a fictional character based on my mother’s true story, (see my blog post about my mom and Sachi), she is also a make-believe character created around many of the things I am not. All the things I was not allowed to feel, or was afraid to feel, as a child, Sachi feels. In Broken Dolls, Sachi longs to be accepted at a time when Japanese-Americans were outcasts. Yet, she does not let that stop her pursuit, and in the end, she finds acceptance by accepting others who are also “different,” like her black friend, Jubie. In the end, she realizes it’s okay to be different.

For me, this is the joy of being a writer. I can take a character to places I’ve always wanted to go, make her say things I’ve been afraid to say, do things I might never do. Sometimes, it helps me understand myself a little better. And, if I can help someone else understand something about herself in the process, it’s the icing on the cake. Oh, wait . . . how cliché. It’s the wind in my sails. The A-1 on my steak. The cool side of the pillow. You get the picture.


RUTH:  Black as midnight, mysterious as death, Madame Katanga from The Rook and The Raven is without a doubt, my most favorite character I’ve ever created.  As soon as her name popped into my mind, the witchy-haired Jamaican clairvoyant possessed my being.  I couldn’t read a scene without slipping into her accent and surrendering myself completely to her will.  

Madame Katanga knows many things and can predict the future with one toss of the chicken bones. But for all her wisdom, she is also vulnerable; her greatest fear being that because of her dappling in all things supernatural, her granddaughter will be lost from her forever. Never-the-less she stands firm in her spiritual beliefs and while she would never be found in church at high mass, she would never ridicule the ones that are because all peoples are the children of The Creator. 

Madame Katanga is as wild as a Louisiana hurricane and has a heart as big as her bosoms that her alligator-toothed necklace rests upon.  She stirs the the witchy woman in me.  One story is not enough for this wonderful, colorful character.  Perhaps a sequel to The Rook and The Raven can be found in my future?

PAM:  My favorite character is Robert Lee Johnson, better known as Bubba. He hails from Noisy Creek, a little bitty town in South Georgia where two of my earlier books are set, Redneck Goddess and Noisy Creek. Bubba relocates to the Pacific Northwest and is the good friend of Samantha, the protagonist in Bigfoot Blues and Limited Visibility.  Straight-forward, honest, with a heart as big as Dixie, Bubba is rough-edged socially and all you’ll ever need in a friend or in a lover.

Bubba is my favorite character because, in flannel shirts, jeans and work boots, he’s a true southern gentleman.  An honorable man who listens to Samantha and gives her what she wants and needs before she knows she wants it.  Other men may bring flowers and candy, swear they’ll walk through fire for her, but Bubba brings Samantha’s favorite coffee.  On a cold, rainy night, it’s Bubba who lays a fire ready for the match.   And, when Samantha is in an impossible situation, it’s good-ole-boy Bubba who steps up and shows her he’s right there, his hand firmly in hers.

I may not write romance, but honey, can I build me a man or what?

LINDA:  I have written several short stories about a little boy named Charley. He is based on true experiences of my daddy, Charles Diehl. Charley makes me laugh and I love his attitude. He is the typical eleven-year-old country boy during the 1930’s, doing the typical country boy devilment. It is an innocent time where the worst things kids did was moving the church outhouse a foot behind the “pit” for the evening services.

I like all my protagonists because they embody those close to me. My antagonists are all the things wrong with the world wrapped up in a personality.

CLAIRE: When I first pondered the answer to this question, the heroine of Redneck Ex came to in mind. Then, I stewed a bit and realized that even though I think Dr. Summer Leigh Johnson is an absolute delight, (see her interview on Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews on April 14th!) I’m in love with a secondary character from Redneck Ex: Joshua Elmer McRoy.

Josh started out in this world as a bit character, someone to occupy Summer Leigh’s time while she got her bearings. She had flown to Germany at the request of her ex-father-in-law to check on her ex-husband, Dwight Sullivan, who had been injured in a car bombing in Iraq. Josh and Dwight are roommates at the hospital. I fell in love with him instantly. Seriously, the first words out of his mouth made me smile.

Josh is a young, good-old-boy. Without question, you’d trust him with your deepest, darkest secret. He’s the type of guy you want around during a crisis—mechanical, level-headed, intelligent, savvy. Lord knows, he’d never think of himself as intelligent! He’d kick the ground and blush if you suggested such a thing. So, I guess that makes him humble too, huh? And, that boy has a big heart—melts at the sight of a puppy.

I was surprised that so many readers have commented on his storyline in Redneck Ex. I was in love with the guy, but I didn’t think everyone else would be too. Obviously, he’s lovable.

Let me know what you think about him.

Whether you are a reader or a writer, who is your favorite character, and why?

Battling Your Evil Editor

This week’s question is by Linda Apple:

Do you have that Evil Editor perched on your shoulder like a buzzard squawking at every word? How do you overcome trying to make the first draft perfect and just get the story written?

PAMELA:  When I sit at the computer there’s nothing but the character and me. I never second guess myself when I’m writing.  It’s only words.  If I don’t like what I’ve written the next day, so what?  That’s why they make that delete button.

However, I begin each day’s writing by going back over what I wrote the day before.  That gets me back into the character and it’s the first time I edit. That’s when I hear the voices of the Northwest Arkansas Writer’s Workshop.  The members live in my head and whisper encouragement and suggestions in my ear.

I cut and paste, chop the heads from prairie dogs (the use of the same word in close proximity), add a line or two, delete a paragraph here and there. Then I flip the switch on the voices and get on with the day’s new creation.

Once I walk away from the computer, I agonize over plot, argue with the direction the characters have taken, jot down descriptions or ideas that invade my head, generally make myself crazy second-guessing myself until I sit down to write again. But, once I start to write, that all goes away.  My writing process is like watching an internal movie.  All I do is put the story down on paper.

CLAIRE:   When I sit down to write, I pack a sling shot and a Glock. I have to kill that dastardly buzzard every morning. He perches on my shoulder and squawks every time I misuse a comma and/or split an infinitive. Once I get him silenced, I’m able to write, to get those words on the page. What I find most interesting is that while I’m writing, I can’t get my internal editor to shut up; however, when I’m actually in edit mode, the only thing I can think about is the next story. Seems I have an evil editor and a wicked writer battling in my head all the time.

JAN:  The blasted buzzards are swarming over in my part of the world. I mean, I’ve already re-typed that first sentence three times. The darn buzzards . . . no, wait . . . the dang buzzards . . . nope, erase that . . . the blasted buzzards. Yeah!  . . . are hovering . . . no, wait . . . flying. Damn, what’s that word I’m trying to think of . . .oh! Swarming – that’s it!

Obviously, that Evil Editor is about to devour me and my manuscript right along with me.

But, I recently found comfort in an article by Jhumpa Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize winning author. (See my Monday Mashup with a link to the article—oh, all right, I’ll give it to you here, too.) In her article, “My Life’s Sentences,” she states, “The urge to convert experience into a group of words that are in a grammatical relation to one another is the most basic, ongoing impulse of my life.” When I write, every sentence is an art form, a puzzle to be solved, a story.

So, for me, it’s a long, slow process. But I love every bit of the struggle.

RUTH:  When I was a rookie writer I was obsessed with getting the first draft perfect.  Every word that Spell-check underlined had to be fixed on the spot, my new thesaurus took a beating, and I’d be stuck for endless minutes trying to think of a name for a character or town.  I’d sit for hours at the computer, my head pounding, my butt numb and still have only a few paragraphs to show for my effort.  Creativity ran and hid. My writing was forced, flat, and well . . . boring.

That’s when I learned my first huge lesson in writing: trust the voices in my head.  My characters were itching to tell their stories and were interesting and exciting enough on their own without me trying to make them so.  I ignored the misspellings, the repeated words, and put blanks when names and locations didn’t come to right away.  I just wrote.  That’s when the magic happened.   The story flowed.  The second lesson I learned?  Write first, edit second.

Of course when all else fails, I find the most excellent way to banish the Evil Editor is with a tall glass of Dr. Pepper mixed with a shot of Captain Morgan.

LINDA:  From the first day I decided to pick up the proverbial pen and become a writer, a dark shadow loomed in the room and landed on my shoulder like a buzzard. I called this tormenting feeling the “Evil Editor.”


Because this feeling made me question every word I typed. I worried about having that perfect opening sentence. I worried about grammar, sentence structure, using a word too many times, clichés, purple prose, weak characters, unrealistic dialogue, telling instead of showing. Well you get the idea.

These worries literally froze my mind. I’d type and retype the first paragraph for weeks! Sure, I knew to just write the story and fix it later. But no one told the editor on my shoulder.

It has taken years for me to get through my thick skull that writing is in layers. First layer are the bones of the story. Spit out the bones!

Second layer: put flesh on the bones! It is okay to have skinny parts and fatty parts. The next layer will make all things balanced. Flesh out the bones!

Third layer: add the muscle and shape the story up. This is my most recent discovery. Because I knew the ending, I put foreshadowing in the beginning. It really gave my story depth and interest. Give some curves to the story!

Fourth layer: Fine-tune the story. Find all the little blemishes and clear them up. Clean up the story!

The Evil Editor doesn’t like this approach. I can attest to the truth of this because she left my shoulder and went to someone else who has yet to discover that writing a novel is done in layers!

What do YOU do to tame that Evil Editor?